Entangled

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” – Hebrews 12:1


Lighthouses have been an inspiration for many painters, filmmakers, and writers, including yours truly. One such inspired individual is Russian artist, Nikolay Polissky. Born in 1957 in Moscow, Nikolay is known for his impressive, handcrafted structures in the middle of Russia’s vast countrysides.  He employs local area residents to help him in the creation of his large scale sculptures. What I find particularly impressive about his work is that he uses natural materials such as branches, vines, trunks, and wooden furniture. Nikolay has built over 25 structures in the past 15 years. One of his most famous and longstanding land-art projects is the LIGHTHOUSE ON UGRA (pictured above and below). It stands 39 feet tall and was made using dead elm tree trunks that were entwined (entangled) into a gigantic tower. This amazing piece of art attracts locals and visitors year round.

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The Lighthouse on Ugra reminds me of sin and how easy it can entangle us. As God’s lighthouses to the world, we need to be aware of the fact that people will also be attracted to us. Not necessarily because of how we look, but because of how we live. Therefore, our lifestyle needs to represent a true lighthouse. A lifestyle that is built on a solid foundation (faith in Jesus) and whose walls (principles) are reinforced with steel (prayers). One whose ascending stairs (spiritual growth) are firmly secured in place (obedience to God’s word). And one whose lantern room (heart) is brightly shining (testifying of God’s love) to guide all who are lost at sea (living aimlessly without eternal hope). So we must be extremely careful not to get entangled by anything that will compromise us spiritually or morally such as, the cares of life, the temptations of the flesh, and the philosophies of this world. If we carelessly succumb to these, we may still retain the shape and form of a lighthouse but we will become like the Lighthouse on Ugra, (spiritually) dead and hollow.

Many of us make the mistake of thinking that giving in to sin is easier for new Christians and those who neglect spiritual disciplines than for matured and disciplined Believers. But that couldn’t be farther away from the truth. We have to realize that the enemy of our souls knows no boundaries when it comes to distracting and steering us away from God. We know that God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34), but neither is Satan. In fact, his attack on those who are strong in faith is even greater and more relentless. We should never become cocky about our Christianity. Our boast should be only in the Lord and on what He has done for us and in us. It would behoove us to remember Paul’s words to the Corinthians…

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Have you ever noticed the way vines grow? Perhaps you’ve witnessed how they cover up areas in just a matter of months. Time lapse videos show their amazing entwining abilities. They twist and climb by attaching themselves strongly to any supporting structure. Eventually, they end up completely engulfing whatever they cling to.

Sin is pretty much like a vine. It starts off small and seemingly non-threatening like a pretty budding flower. But no sooner said than done, it anchors itself strongly to our soul (mind, will, and emotions) and it begins to grow relentlessly like a devouring virus. No wonder the author of Hebrews says that it “easily” entangles. And let us not fall into the trap of thinking that we only have to be careful with “big” sins. Sexual immorality, larceny, murder and drug addiction are no greater sins than gossip, coveting, vanity, apathy, and other seemingly “small” sins. Sin is sin period! It is missing the mark of righteousness and it is what grieves the Spirit of God. Actually, according to the Apostle Paul…

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We all know that sin is very attractive. That is why the temptation to succumb to it is very powerful. It can begin as a small and insignificant desire, but if not dealt with immediately and if left unattended it can become spiritually fatal. The Apostle James tells us that…

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For this reason, we cannot afford to glance at, touch or give ear to, not even for a second, the unrighteous desires of the flesh or the luring vanities of this world. James the Apostle give us this warning…

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Remember, sin is ANYTHING that isn’t pleasing to God. It may be something we do, say or think. Even selfish motives can sprout a vine of sin, so we must quickly nip it in the bud to prevent it from entangling us and separating us from God and His will for our lives. But should we get entangled by the tendrils of sin, we can find hope in the words of the Apostle John who says…

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and again he says…

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Knowing that there is a Master gardener who can cut and untangle sin in our lives just as quickly as it can take a hold of us is more than reassuring and comforting. It is a hope that guarantees us freedom from shame, guilt, and self-condemnation, which can also entangle us even more! 

Prayer: Lord Jesus, keep me from getting entangled by the tendrils of sin. Guard my heart and mind against the unrighteous desires of the flesh, the luring temptations of this world, and the lies of the devil. May I remain a strong mighty lighthouse that will not compromise and continue to shine your love until the day you return or call me into eternity, amen.


-ALL SCRIPTURE IS QUOTED FROM THE NIV EXCEPT WHERE SPECIFIED.
PHOTO
Featured Image: Image by Ksenia Smirnova / CC BY 2.0

Other lighthouse images (2004) courtesy of Nikolay Polissky

The Results of a Godless Plan

Located on the seashores of Amchit, Lebanon, is the Babel Bahr Lighthouse (pictured above). It points to one of the most renowned Lebanese restaurants in the Mediterranean. The lighthouse has a fully functional rotating light fixture, but it does not serve as an actual navigational aid because the area does not accommodate a deck for ships. It was built exclusively as part of the restaurant’s design. You might say that it is technically the welcoming door to fine cuisine and luxurious dining.

Although Babel Bahr means “door to the sea” in Arabic, the Lighthouse of Babel Bahr reminds me of the Tower of Babel. Babel, from the Hebrew word balal, meaning to jumble or to confuse, was the name given by God to a Babylonian city where the descendants of Noah had settled. Many of you may be familiar with the story, but for those who aren’t here is a short summary. After the great flood, mankind spoke one language (Gen. 11:1). Seeking a place to live as one great community they traveled to the land of Shinar (Gen 11:2), what is now modern day Iraq. This move was clearly not God’s plan. He wanted them to spread out, multiply, and inhabit the whole earth once again. So there, in the plains of Babylonia, they came together and planned to build a city with a tower that would reach the heavens (Gen. 11:4). The Bible does not give specific details as to why they wanted to build this tower except that they desired to make a name for themselves. Some historians speculate that they might have wanted to protect themselves from the possibility of another flood. Others suggest that they had turned away from the one true God and that the tower would help them communicate with their other gods. Regardless of the reason for their seemingly great idea, their plan was a Godless plan. In order to prevent them from continuing their selfish, arrogant, and defying project God decided to confound their language (Gen. 11:7). As a result, they could no longer work together and proceed with their undertaking. So in total disarray and confusion, they were forced to scatter throughout the world (Gen. 11:8-9) ultimately fulfilling the plan of God.

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Have you ever had a plan ready to be implemented only to find out at the last minute that it couldn’t be done? How about one that you actually brought into play but had to terminate abruptly? Been there, done that. Needless to say, not being able to start or even finish a well-designed plan can leave anyone with an immense feeling of disappointment and failure, especially if it was a seemingly godly plan.

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Not only can a change of plan cause frustration, but in many cases, it also forces one to go back to the drawing board.  For Christians, however, it should do more than that. It should also encourage us to analyze it from a biblical perspective. Whenever one of our “great” plans get thwarted, we must accept that either we didn’t consult with God first for clear direction or we completely went against His will and must trust that He has a better plan. King Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, said that if we entrust our works (whatever we do) to the Lord He would take care of establishing them (allow them to succeed).

To The Beach

Many a time we follow the humanistic formula for planning. First, we come up with an idea that has been triggered by a desire or a need. Then, we calculate its possibilities and devise a plan. Finally, we gather information, follow through some specific steps and away we go! Oh, we may commit it to God (ask Him to bless it), but only after we have initiated it or run into some unforeseen setbacks. Sounds familiar? God knows I have been guilty of poor (Godless) planning myself. But I have learned my lesson and if you can identify with me then my prayer is that you have too.

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When developing a secular or even a spiritual plan, sometimes we go about it as if we had it all figured out. We fail to seek God’s direction through prayer, Scriptures and godly counsel. This kind of attitude suggests that we don’t need God and increases the probability of being outside of His will. Plus, it leaves us devoid of a key element needed to succeed in our plans, namely advice (Proverbs 15:22). In any event, it all points out to pride, which is what King Solomon said comes before destruction (Proverbs 16:18) and which was the downfall of the city and tower of Babel.

Because Godless planning is rooted in self-centeredness and self-sufficiency, here are some of the results we should expect:

  1. Frustration and disappointment
  2. Undesired results
  3. Loss/Waste of time and resources
  4. Unnecessary hardship
  5. Implicating others 

In addition, Godless planning reflects contempt for God and supposes that we are in control of the future while ignoring the fact that we are not even guaranteed our next breath. The Apostle James warns us against such attitude calling it an “evil boast” (James 4:13-16).

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There is a Bible verse that is a favorite among many religious groups. It is found in Jeremiah 29:11. If we internalize the message of this verse we can conclude that God has a perfect plan for each and every one of us. A plan that guarantees a hopeful and prosperous/successful future. And if we truly believe that, then why wouldn’t we trust Him to lead us in every plan we make throughout our lifetime? King Solomon also said that if we acknowledge God in EVERYTHING we do not only will He guide us but also set us on the right path [to success] (Proverbs 3:5,6). I don’t know about you, but I rather entrust all my plans to Him who knows the beginning and the end. To Him who is perfect in all His ways. To Him who wants only the best for me. To Him who has the power to mess up MY plans in order to fulfill His.  And I certainly rather follow HIS plan knowing that even if the outcome is not what I expect, He can and will make it all work out for my good (Romans 8:28).

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Have you made plans to accomplish something this year or in the near future? Are you currently fulfilling a plan you made some time ago? Did you consult with God first? Did you seek counsel in His Word and/or from a spiritually mature Christian? In other words, did you make sure it was not a Godless plan? Remember, God himself has established that His ways are not our ways, neither are His thoughts our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8). So, while we are encouraged to set goals, think critically and plan ahead, it would behoove us to first seek the counsel of Him who planned, designed, created and successfully set the universe and life itself in motion. That is the easy part. Once we do that, then comes the difficult part, which is to wait.

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But for those of us who learn to wait after seeking God, there is an ever encouraging promise characterized by renewed strength, the ability to soar, walk, and run without any setbacks (Isaiah 40:31). This, my dear brother/sister, is the only proven method to avoid rushing into Godless plans and to give God all the glory when our Spirit-led plans succeed.  

Prayer: Oh, Mighty God of all creation. To you who are perfect in all your ways, I surrender my will, desires, hopes, and dreams. I entrust you with all my plans and ask you to lead me, and guide me according to your purpose for my life. I trust you and wait upon you knowing that if I follow your counsel my plans will succeed and bring glory and honor to you. In Jesus name, amen. 

RELATED SCRIPTURES

“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers, they succeed.” – Proverbs 15:22
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.” – James 4:13-16
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your path straight.”- Proverbs 3:5,6 (NASB)
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”- Romans 8:28

-ALL SCRIPTURE IS QUOTED FROM THE NIV EXCEPT WHERE SPECIFIED.

Is There Such Thing as Holy Envy?

As some of you may already know, I was born and raised on the island of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. I left home at the age of 17 and moved to the U.S. mainland to attend college. That was 34 years ago. Since then, I’ve traveled back a few times to visit my parents. Last week, our family had the opportunity to go once again and spend some time with Mom and Pops.

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Ever since I started blogging about my lighthouse inspirations (a little over a year ago) I have searched the internet and found lighthouses in just about every place on earth, including At World’s End. But it wasn’t until recently that I discovered one in none other than my home island of St. Croix! Amazingly, the 102-year-old deteriorating beacon is still standing. So visiting it was definitely on this year’s vacation agenda.

Since my wife is the main inspiration for this blog and because she has accompanied me on all my lighthouse trips to date, I wasn’t surprised when she agreed to join me on my quest to find the Ham’s Bluff Light (pictured above). According to those who have been to this lighthouse before, accessing it is quite a challenge. Not only because of the treacherous road that leads to the base of the bluff but because it also requires a 30-minute steep climb uphill to actually reach it. It didn’t take long for us to confirm the first part of the warning! As soon as we arrived (no living soul in site) and began to walk the only visible and well-defined trail, I felt like a little kid embarking on a cool jungle expedition. Unfortunately, just minutes into the hike my wife changed her mind. After crossing a very short but extremely narrow path along the edge of a precipitous cliff we encountered a dark rainforest canopy which marked the beginning of the ascending journey. That is when my wife began to feel overly anxious and immediately turned around saying, “No way. I am not going any further.”

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Although she was sincere in suggesting that I continue the climb by myself while she waited in the car, there was no way I was going to leave her alone in such a desolate place. Besides, we had forgotten to pack water and bug spray. I doubt we would have survived half the trek. So with a sunken heart, I decided to follow her back to the vehicle while thinking about the amazing historical structure that, unbeknownst to me until now, laid at the top of the bluff and which I had eagerly been looking forward to visiting. But my disappointment lasted only a few minutes. Ever since dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, I decided that I would visit my parents once a year. So I figured that next year I would ask a couple of my more adventurous family members who still live there to join me on a new challenging jaunt.

A couple of days ago I came across an article on the Ham’s Bluff Lighthouse in The U.S. Lighthouse Society News blog. covet As I read the detailed account of the author’s experience climbing the hill and finally reaching the top where the tower is located, not to mention his description of the amazing panoramic view, I couldn’t help feeling rather envious. Now, I know that the Lord has said, “Thou shalt not covet” (Exodus 20:17), that envy is listed among the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21), and that there is a form of jealousy that can be more dangerous than anger and fury (Proverbs 27:4). So, I looked up the various meanings of the words envy and covetousness hoping to find a definition that would keep me from having to repent of my seemingly pious jealousy. Here is what I found:

  1. According to dictionary.com, to covet is to desire wrongfully, inordinately, or without due regard for the rights of others. But it can also mean to eagerly wish for.
  2. According to merriam-webster.com, envy is the painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage.
  3. According to Krister Stendahl, a Swedish theologian, the willingness to recognize elements in other religious traditions or faiths that you admire and wish could, in some way, be reflected in your own religious tradition or faith is what he refers to as “holy envy.”

Considering the definitions above, could my desire to experience what Michael Salvarezza experienced when he visited the Ham’s Bluff Light be defined as an eager wish (1) or a pain driven desire to possess the advantage he had (2)? Can it, although not related to a religious element, qualify as holy envy since it involves admiring his accomplishment and wishing I could have done the same (3)? I must confess, I still wish I had been able to see what Michael saw back in 2016 and what was just 25 minutes away from my reach just a week ago!

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Have you ever desired to experience God the way others claim they have? Maybe you have seen (on TV/Video) the joy in the faces of third world country inhabitants as they welcome missionaries who bring much-needed supplies and wish you could do the same? As a church leader, have you ever prayed for committed workers or even accommodating facilities like those found in other churches? Have you ever wished you had met Jesus earlier in life like so many others have so that you could experience His love and mercy much sooner? If envy denotes a longing to possess something awarded to or achieved by another then, technically, even desires like those mentioned above are envious in nature. According to Proverbs 16:2, God weighs motives not desire. In other words, God judges the intentions of the heart. So if desiring to experience and enjoy things that other Christians have stems from a heart that genuinely wants to glorify God, then couldn’t such desires be considered, as Stendhal would say, holy envy? Keep in mind, however, that in every instance, the Bible refers to envy as something carnal and destructive. Perhaps because it originated at the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve allowed it to enter their hearts. Their desire to possess something that belonged to God and which was seemingly better than what He had already provided them with caused them to sin and actually loose everything (Genesis 3:1-7).

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There is a fine line between humbly desiring the good that others enjoy and a resentful longing prompted by an ungrateful heart. Motive being the deciding factor. Because envy stems from an inherently evil heart it can easily stunt our spiritual growth and keep us from living free of self and fully enjoying the love and grace of God. That is why it is grouped with other moral infractions such as hypocrisy, deceit, and slander. Plus, it can also affect us physically and emotionally. Medical studies show that envying and coveting can cause digestive, nervous and even psychological problems (The Nature of Envy). John Chrysostom, an early church father, wrote, “As a moth gnaws a garment, so doth envy consume a man.”

The Bible is clear about the ill effects of envy, covetousness, and jealousy. It warns us against them because, as mortals in a fallen world, we can all fall prey to their trap. They can arise as the result of a genuine pursuit of godly things, but they can also be prompted by subconscious selfish ambitions. Again, God weighs motives. So the question to ask ourselves is, “How do we make sure that our desires stem from the right motives?” The answer is found in Psalm 37:4.

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This verse does not only imply that God will grant us what we desire the most if we serve Him wholeheartedly. It also suggests that He is the “giver” of our desires. In other words, it is God himself who puts desires in our hearts when we commit to finding peace and fulfillment in Him. And if our desires are God’s desires then they are guaranteed to be free of selfish ambition. Which probably means that there is no such thing as holy envy. What do you think? I’d like to read your comments.

I will certainly be writing more about the Ham’s Bluff Lighthouse once I personally visit it and witness the awesome view from its lantern room. Hopefully, it will still be standing and safe enough to climb by this time next year.

Prayer: Jehova Jireh, you are my provider and the source of my very life. Thank you for EVERYTHING you have so graciously given me. May my heart’s desire be to delight solely in you. Help me to focus on your faithfulness and goodness so that my life would reflect how grateful I truly am. In Jesus name I pray, amen. 

SCRIPTURES
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not from the Father but from the world.” – 1 John 2:15-16 (BSB)
“The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” -Galatians 5:19-21
All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord.” -Proverbs 16:2
A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” -Proverbs 14:30
“So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.” – 1 Peter 2:1
“Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” -Psalm 37:4
-ALL SCRIPTURE IS QUOTED FROM THE NIV EXCEPT WHERE SPECIFIED.
PHOTO/IMAGE CREDIT
Hams Bluff Lighthouse (c) 2016 Eco-Photo Explorers
Adam and Eve by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1526) [Cropped]

Shine While There Is Still Time

Considered one of the most scenic and photographed lighthouses in the world, the Lindau Lighthouse (pictured above) has long been a major tourist attraction in Germany. Built in 1856, this medieval-style stone tower is 108 ft. tall and is located in the old island town of Lindau in Lake Constance. What sets this lighthouse apart from other beacons is that it also has a massive clock built into its facade. The lighthouse, which is in the center of the city, continues to guide mariners safely to shore while its clock keeps its inhabitants from losing track of time.

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Randy Pausch said, “Time is all you have. And you may find one day that you have less than you think.” So the question to asks ourselves is whether we are using our time wisely or not. Both in spiritual and practical living. Are we making time to truly shine? Shining the light of Christ is not just talking about God all the time, or faithfully attending church, or advertising our “Christianity” with bumper stickers, t-shirts, or social media memes. It’s about intentionally, unselfishly and even sacrificially reaching out to those in a dark and sinful world. It encompasses more than just words and emotions. It should actually cause us to step out of our comfort zones and touch people’s lives with acts of kindness, compassion, and unconditional love. We must demonstrate genuine concern not only for their spiritual needs but their physical needs as well.

“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” -1 John 3:18

“And our people must also learn to devote themselves to good works in order to meet the pressing needs of others so that they will not be unfruitful.” -Titus 3:14 (BSB)

“If one of you tells him, ‘Go in peace; stay warm and well fed,’ but does not provide for his physical needs, what good is that?” -James 2:16

This will unquestionably call for us to work. And the only time we have to work is now while it’s daytime (while we are alive) because the day will eventually come to an end and night will fall (we will pass away).

“As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.” – John 4:26

The only way to guarantee that our light will shine long after we are gone is to always preach the Gospel and as St. Francis of Assisi would say, “use words only when necessary.” Leaving a legacy of faithfulness to God, family, and community can best be accomplished through faith-encouraged deeds rather than a bullhorn.

Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” -James 2:17

As I have stated in the ‘About’ section of this blog, everyone has been given a gift that can be used to make a difference is someone’s life. And while we can undoubtedly impact the world through prayer, broadcasts and published works, if we are physically capable, we ought to get up and commit to doing good deeds by being a physical extension of God’s hands and feet.

“Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God.” -1 Peter 4:10 (HCSB)

“Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” -Galatians 6:9

And we must certainly never stop declaring the Gospel.

Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah. -Acts 5:42

Like the Lindau Lighthouse, we must keep shining right where we are but we must also keep track of time (we’ll never know how much we truly have left) and exercise our faith through random acts of kindness. And let us not forget that though the night (death) may not fall upon us for a while, there are many, including family members and friends, who are still living in sin and upon whom night can fall at any moment. So, let’s seize every opportunity and Shine while there is still time!

“Therefore, as we have the opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” – Galatians 6:10

Preach the word at all time. Be ready in season and out of season.” -2 Timothy 4:2

Prayer: Dear God, teach me to number my days. For my life here is fleeting and I desire to live it fully in obedience to you. Help me to shine beyond my Christian convictions by giving me a genuine heart for people. Teach me to love them and serve as you would. In Jesus name I pray, amen. 

-ALL SCRIPTURE IS QUOTED FROM THE NIV EXCEPT WHERE SPECIFIED.

To Shine Once Again

The Point Abino Lighthouse (pictured above) was built in 1917 and lit for the first time in 1918. At 95 ft. in height it is considered the most elegant lighthouse on the Ontario shores of the Great Lakes. For 77 years the tower shone brightly and fulfilled its life-saving duties. That was until it was decommissioned and went dark in 1995. 22 years later it began to shine once again thanks to the efforts of the Point Abino Lighthouse Preservation Society. To celebrate the beacon’s 100 years the PALPS restored the tower to its original splendor and lit its 2,000 lbs. Fresnel lens on May 1st of this year. 

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Lighthouses were built to last and to withstand turbulent weather, but many have suffered abandonment due to advancements in navigational technology. The life-saving stories associated with these Sentinels of the Sea are truly awe-inspiring. No wonder people have come together to form organizations dedicated to their restoration, relighting, and preservation. 

If you’ve been constantly reflecting the light of Christ ever since you came to know Him as Savior and have never experienced a flickering or temporary power outage then you are a recent convert or you met Jesus in person soon after your conversion. Which means that you are reading this post from heaven and therefore there is no need for you to continue reading. However, if you have experienced (or are experiencing) moments when your light has been snuffed out leaving you temporarily in the dark, then you’ve known the Lord for a while and are reading this from somewhere on planet earth. If that is the case, then keep reading. This may encourage you or someone you know the next time you go through a dark period in your life [ReadSpiritual Blackouts].

As long as we live and breath on this earth we will encounter times when our light will dim or even burn out.  In other words, spiritual, emotional, and physical challenges are bound to occur and cause setbacks in our daily routines. That’s because while we are not of this world we are still in it.1 As mortal beings, we are subject to distress, pain, and even death. That is, if we don’t hear the trumpet sound before then.2

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It is said that you cannot exercise patience unless you are forced to wait. That you cannot enjoy peace unless you have been in conflict. And that you cannot truly rest if you have not experienced exhausting labor. If you agree, then the same holds true for light. You cannot appreciate it unless you have undergone a period of darkness. “I once was blind, but now I see” can be recited/sang by anyone, but these words are more than just a liturgical verse to those who can truly identify with it. To have been in spiritual darkness and then been able to “see the light” (of Christ) is not just a reason to sing, but to uninhibitedly praise God and proclaim His goodness to all mankind, especially to those who are still in the dark. It’s like being a decommissioned lighthouse who has been given a new lamp and lens to shine and once again fulfill its true purpose.

Those who have temporarily lost their physical sight have testified that there is no other sensory input more valuable and appreciated. I recently surveyed a number of family members and friends and asked them if they were to live with only one of the five senses which would they choose. 95% chose sight. That’s because in darkness you cannot appreciate the beauty of color, texture, shape and form. In darkness, you are lost without a sense of direction. Gollum’s riddle (in The Lord of the Rings) perfectly defines darkness. “It cannot be seen, cannot be felt, cannot be heard, cannot be smelt. It lies behind stars and under hills, and empty holes it fills. It comes first and follows after, ends life, kills laughter[Read ‘Light vs. Darkness Pt.2′].

We will all experience dark times in our lives. Times when our light will temporarily stop shining due to a tragedy, spiritual carelessness, mental or physical illness, or unconfessed sin. These are the times when we need to totally surrender to the Holy Spirit of God [Read The Keeper of our Light] and seek spiritually mature counsel [Read Every Lighthouse Needs a Maria].

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We were not made to travel the road of life alone. We were created for fellowship. Fellowship with God and with people. But the truth is that there will be times when we will find ourselves alienated from both. Either subconsciously or by choice. Yet our loving and gracious Heavenly Father never forsakes us, especially when we walk through the dark valley of the shadow of death. He is always there to comfort us and, from time to time, send assistant keepers who will help us rekindle the light of joy, hope, and salvation. 

I pray that as you read this devotion you are brightly shining for Christ. If not, then take courage. This devotion is intended to help relight the beacon within you by reminding you of God’s faithfulness and linking you to some of my previous devotions which are relevant to the topic. I encourage you to read them. After all, it is His light that God wants you to shine once again [Read His Light is Your Light].

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for your life-saving light. The light that has brought me closer to you. The light that others need to see in me so they too are drawn to you. When my light dims out due to the challenges in life remind me of your unfailing love and rekindle the fire of your Spirit within me that I may continue to shine for you. In Jesus name I pray, amen. 

SCRIPTURES
I am not asking that You take them out of the world, but that You keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”  – John 17: 15-16
“After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.” -1 Thessalonians 4:17
“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” -Psalm 23:4
-ALL SCRIPTURE IS QUOTED FROM THE NIV EXCEPT WHERE SPECIFIED.

 

 

At The Feet of Jesus

“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me! “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”  -Luke 10:38-42

 

Located on the highest cliff of Ona, a tiny island in Norway, you’ll find this beautiful ruby red beacon known as the Ona Lighthouse. Built in 1867, it stands 48 ft. tall and overlooks a small village of no more than 25-30 inhabitants. At the foot of this tower, you’ll find a cluster of brightly colored wooden houses that help create an indisputable peaceful and tranquil scene.

When I contemplate the serenity depicted in this image it almost seems as if the houses are gathered attentively around the lighthouse waiting for its light to shine; the light that will reassure them that they will be kept safe from the dangers of misguided nocturnal sea vessels. Then, I am instantly reminded of Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus.

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Like Martha, we have all experienced the pressures of the daily cares of life. The demands of school, work, church, and family will occasionally gobble up most of our time and attention.1 Book reports due, projects to complete, lessons to prepare, house to clean and baseball practices to attend. No doubt that these responsibilities constitute an important part of our lives. However, they can become detrimental to our overall well-being if we allow them to overwhelm us and overshadow the more important things, like physical and spiritual disciplines and quality family time. But the truth is that most of us already know this. We have been convicted of it many times before. We’ve felt guilty about it and we’ve told ourselves that it’s time to make a change, but unconsciously we get sucked back into the routine of meeting deadlines, giving in to our OCDs and thinking that the world will collapse if we stop (even if just for a moment) to sit down and catch our breath.

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Like Mary, we all need to take a break and sit at the feet of Jesus every now and then. No, I don’t mean sitting in a church pew, or even behind a computer or phone screen scrolling through inspirational quotes and devotions. I’m not even referring to a routine devotional time. Even when doing these things we sometimes miss what God is trying to tell us simply because we are either on a time schedule, fulfilling another duty, just “kicking off our shoes” or simply going through the motions. What I mean is that we have to take the time to get away and wholeheartedly immerse ourselves in His grace [Read Escaping Not “From” But “Into]. Time to intentionally contemplate and appreciate His handiwork; the earth, the heavens, and the intricacies of the human body [Read Fearfully and Wonderfully Designed]. Time to deeply reflect on how the stripes that were on His body have completely healed us from the ill-effects of sin.2 (Quite frankly, we should be doing this one more regularly instead of once a year during the “holy week.”) And we should also take time to just sit down quietly and give Him our undivided attention. Perhaps this is the only time He has to tell us how much we truly mean to Him. This doesn’t mean that we carelessly ignore our responsibilities as Martha thought Mary was doing. There has to be a balance between work and leisure in order for us to be effective and productive as Christians and as citizens in general. The key to obtaining this balance is discerning, like Mary, when it’s time to pursue “what is better.” In other words, we should know when it’s time to put the book down, take our hand off the mouse, or turn off the vacuum cleaner and take care of what is more important. Maybe it’s time to redo our priority list.  

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To manage life properly we need order, direction, encouragement, and support. God provides all of these through His word, sermons, blogs, songs, and through godly counsel. But He also accomplishes it through the gentle whisper of an undisturbed quiet time at the feet of Jesus.

There are two other interesting facts about Ona that serve as an excellent Gospel analogy. The relatively small island has been populated for centuries because of its proximity to the fishing expanse close to the Atlantic Ocean. For this reason, fishing has traditionally been the only source of income for its inhabitants. However, the island has recently attracted a few pottery makers who have also made little Ona their home.

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This reminds me that at the feet of Jesus, we can also find the motivation and passion we need to become effective fishers of men.3 Every heartbeat of our Savior has a name; the name of every soul who is yet to be saved. If we listen closely we’ll hear their cry and be encouraged to reach out to them with the Gospel.

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At the feet of the Master Potter, 4 we also learn how we can help Him mold the clay He has placed on the wheel by following the Great commission and making fully devoted disciples of Jesus Christ.5

I am not sure about you, but I am ready to spend some time at the feet of Jesus and listen to what He’s been trying to tell me. How about you? 

Prayer: Lord Jesus, there is no other place I rather be than at your feet. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of life quicken me to stop and listen to what you have to say. Thank you for the privilege of being able to be in your presence and listen to your heartbeat; the heartbeat for a lost and dying world to which you have called me to shine the light of your Gospel. I pray this in you precious name, amen. 

SCRIPTURE REFERENCES
1- “…but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.”  – Mark 4:19
2- “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” – Isaih 53:5
3- “And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” – Matthew 4:19 (ESV)
4- “Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand..” – Isaiah 64:8
5- “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you.” -Matthew 28:19-20
-ALL SCRIPTURE IS QUOTED FROM THE NIV EXCEPT WHERE SPECIFIED.

Brokenness Brings Strength

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. – The Apostle Peter

What do storms, earthquakes, wars, erosion and rotten wood have in common? For one, they have been the leading cause for the reconstruction and/or relocation of many lighthouses throughout the world. In the early years of lighthouses, people used whatever materials were available locally to build them: wood, brick, and stone. And while these life-saving towers were successful in warning and guiding mariners to safety, they only lasted until their next big battle against man or nature. Many of them had to be rebuilt more than once, but with the advancements in technology and engineering not only where they made stronger but lasted a lot longer. A few of these “saviors of the seacoast” are still standing. Some for more than 200 years!

Located on Little Brewster Island in Massachusetts, the Boston Light (pictured above) is the first of American lighthouses. Originally built in 1716, the tower is older than the republic itself. It is one of the many lighthouses to overcome several calamities and still stand tall and strong. The tower first suffered its major disaster in 1775 when Minutemen set fire to it in retaliation against a British blockade. Although it was quickly repaired, the tower was destroyed by gunpowder the following year.

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C. early 1780s, from a painting by Capt. Matthew Parke. This image apparently depicts the original tower before its 1776 destruction.

The present tower was rebuilt in 1783 to its original height of 75 ft. and in 1856 it was raised another 23 ft. One can only imagine the punishment that this and other lighthouses have faced given their location. Exposed not only to inclement weather and the elements of the sea but to intentional damage as well, they have truly endured the test of time. Many of them, like the Boston Light, have undergone a series of renovations and restorations to fortify their structure and preserve them for posterity. Today, Boston Light and many others are still standing and shining their light as a symbol of perseverance, strength, and commitment.

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Imagine giving up on a project simply because it initially broke down. If that was the norm, we wouldn’t have the vacuum cleaner, the automobile, the light bulb, the airplane, or even the life-saving sentinel of the sea a.k.a. the lighthouse. Failure and brokenness are inevitable in life. And while they may normally be regarded as setbacks, they are actually the first step to success. Plus, they grant the opportunity to start over again more intelligently. Failures have inspired the greatest inventions. Brokenness has helped build the strongest of armies.

Perfection can only be found in God. And while He created man in His image and likeness (the ability to commune with God, to reason, and to choose) sin put a spiritual wedge between man and His Creator. It broke the perfect fellowship/intimacy that they once enjoyed before the fall. Hence why Jesus came.

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The brokenness caused by original sin can be immediately repaired through repentance and the acceptance of Christ’s redemptive work on the cross. However, because we are still in a mortal body and are part of a fallen world we have yet to experience the fullness of that redemption; the day when all sin is eradicated forever.  Until then, we will face many battles with temptation, sickness, the consequences of disobeying God, and even persecution.

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Like the many lighthouses that fell apart due to the forces of nature, there will be times when we too will be broken by life’s adversities. But, we can also be restored and emerge stronger than before. Through His word and the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, God can rebuild that which has been broken by trials and by sins (of commission and omission). And that which God himself repairs will stand exceedingly greater than that which stood before it was broken. Therefore, the most distressing brokenness we can ever experience can actually help us become significantly stronger in character and in faith.

The key to remain standing in the midst of our brokenness is to keep in mind who we are and what our calling is in Christ. Jesus said, “You ARE the light of the world.” In spite of the storms of discouragement, wars of opposition, earthquakes of fear, erosions of uncertainty, and all other challenges we may face in life, we ought to continue shining as lighthouses for God.

When our foundation is built on the Rock (Jesus) He is the melody in times of peace, the anchor in the midst of the storm, and the mender when we are broken. His restorative touch not only rebuilds our faith but increases our resolve to persevere. So, keep your eyes on Jesus, trust His word, depend on His faithfulness, and remember that He can use brokenness to bring strength; strength that can serve as an encouragement to others who are broken. 

Prayer: Mender of the broken, Healer of my soul, I call upon you today and ask that you touch me. Strengthen me in the hour of my need so that I may continue to shine brightly for your glory. In the midst of my brokenness I will praise you and know that once I am restored I will be stronger than ever before. In the precious name of Jesus, I pray, amen. 

SCRIPTURE REFERENCES
“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” -1 Pet. 5:10
“He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds.” -Psalm 147:3
“For I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal, declares the Lord…” -Jeremiah 30:17 (ESV)
“And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.” -Job 42:10, ESV
“I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure. I will refine them like silver and purify them like gold. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘These are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.'” -Zachariah 13:9 (NLT)
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer various trials, 7so that the authenticity of your faith — more precious than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” -1 Peter 1:6-7 (BSB)
-ALL SCRIPTURE IS QUOTED FROM THE NIV EXCEPT WHERE SPECIFIED.

1 Year Anniversary. Thank you!

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Today, April 6, 2017, marks one year of publishing Lighthouse Devotions on WordPress. A big “THANK YOU” to all my followers and those who have read, commented on, and shared my posts. I’ve been greatly blessed with the privilege of writing 58 lighthouse inspired devotions this past year. I am looking forward to writing many more and publishing a devotions book in the near future. Let us keep shining the light of Jesus!

The Dangers of an ‘Ear Candy’ Gospel

For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. – The Apostle Paul to Timothy

Most likely you’ve heard of or seen a gingerbread house, but have you ever seen a gingerbread lighthouse!? You can imagine the smile on my face as I stumbled upon this magnificent confection. Gingerbread houses can be traced back to 1800’s Germany. Many food historians agree that they were made popular as a result of the famous Brothers Grimm’s fairy tale, Hansel and Gretel.  During the 19th-century mass waves of immigration, many gingerbread house-making Germans moved to the US.  Since then, these creative treats have become part of the Amercian Christmas tradition. 

Every year I look forward to making and savoring some of the most delectable traditional holiday dishes of my Carribean culture. And though I have lived in the US mainland for over 30 years, I honestly never thought of incorporating the popular gingerbread house to my Christmas menu. Up until now, that is. As a lighthouse aficionado, you can rest assure that I will be designing my very first gingerbread lighthouse this Holiday season. 

Are you familiar with the term “eye candy”? It’s a phrase commonly used to describe that which is attractive and pleasant to the sight, something that tempts us with its addictive visual. For example, glittering night lights, a seemingly endless buffet, colorful natural scenes, a bountiful display of sweets, and even titillating billboards can all be considered eye candy.

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How about the term “ear candy”? Well, that is what we call the all-inclusive, non-judgemental, non-offensive, “it’s all about you” messages coming from many pulpits today, especially in the West.  These are the messages that are meant to attract large audiences by pleasing the ear. While their content is socially relevant, their effect is spiritually devastating. They are too often weakening, rather than empowering, God’s people. They perpetuate rather than break spiritual bondages. 

Churches are like lighthouses. They are to emit the light of Christ by inviting and guiding lost souls with the unadulterated word of God. But many houses of worship are slowly becoming spiritual coffee parlors and narcissistic social centers that condone immoral behavior and encourage selfish entitlement. All in the name of love and unity. However, it’s not that difficult to conclude that the main reason is to increase and secure financial support. Instead of preparing fully devoted disciples of Jesus Christ, these ear candy gospel lighthouses are producing malnourished religious marionettes.

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Harsh isn’t it? This is definitely not the typical inspirational and encouraging devotion you are used to reading from me. But as a soul-loving minister and a protective father of three, I believe that encouragement also comes in the form of admonition and rebuke. I am greatly troubled by the growing number of churches that are leading souls deeper into darkness instead of guiding them to the saving light of Christ. It would be irresponsible of me to only write about the encouraging characteristics of effective lighthouses and not mention the detrimental effects of the ineffective ones.

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Just as gingerbread houses taste sweet to the lips, the gospel messages preached in many of today’s churches are sweet to the ears. They cause the hearers to feel good and want more but never challenge them or help them to grow stronger in their relationship with a holy God. Instead of well-cooked meat to strengthen the soul, ear candy messages have become the main course of spiritual diets. Very few preachers, especially those on TV, talk about repentance toward God because that presupposes sin and “sin” has become a politically incorrect word in our society.  The word “sin” makes people feel uncomfortable. It is judgemental and offensive, so “ministers” just exclude it from their inspirational speeches.

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They steer clear from teaching about faith in Christ alone because it is a much too narrow road to travel upon. They believe that people need a broader spiritual path to cruise comfortably without being hurt or offended. So, faith in the individual self or in some other ideal that promises a better, healthier, wealthier life is more inviting than faith in a character that warns of inevitable troubles as a result of following Him.  They certainly won’t talk about repentance because that suggests that people are not living right and need to change. And why change when God loves us just the way we are? This ear scratching gospel is what is leading people straight to hell while they sit in churches or in front of TV screens week after week being inspired instead of being transformed. 

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Part of the body of Jesus Christ is anemic and slowly dying as a result of sugar-coated sermons. It’s time to do away with these poisonous sweets! Time to crumble the gingerbread lighthouses and build strong Holy Spirit reinforced beacons of hope. Time to do as the Apostle Paul said and “…demolish all arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” The Gospel is more than a message of hope, peace, and love. It is also a call to repentance and transformation. A call to mature spiritually through godly disciplines and many faith-trying challenges. Jesus warned His followers of the imminent dangers they would have to face as a result of believing in Him. He said they would be hated, persecuted, imprisoned and even put to death. Many of them were and many still do!

Jesus himself had no qualms when addressing the issue of sin, especially religious hypocrisy. His zeal for proclaiming the truth of God’s kingdom drove him to say and do things that were considered blasphemous and even criminal. At his trial before Pilate, the main charge against Him was brought on by religious leaders. After actually trying the case, Pilate found no fault in Jesus. However, if tried today, He would most certainly be charged with hate crime, harassment, peace disturbance, and vandalism, among others.

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Believers in Jesus Christ are called to obey God, but also to submit to earthly authority. However, our commitment to honor and respect man-made laws should not keep us from declaring and obeying the Spirit-inspired word of God. Nor should it cause us to compromise the truth therein. Regardless of the opposition we may face from a dissenting crowd, we should never alter the message of the Gospel in order to please people, gain their acceptance, or even avoid conflict. Remember, Jesus’ teachings were not popular in his times nor have they been ever since. They frequently rubbed some people the wrong way.  In fact, that is exactly why they had him crucified!  Yet, what He taught by word and by example is what has and will continue to change countless lives and guarantee them a place with Him in heaven forever. 

So church, let’s quit trying to attract men to Christ by becoming ear candy lights. Let us restore the law of God to its rightful place by being straight forward about what separates man from his Creator, namely sin. Then let us offer the solution to restore that relationship by preaching salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone. But we must not stop there. We must also help believers grow spiritually by teaching sound biblical doctrines. And we must encourage them to pursue holiness by living according to God’s precepts and not their own. 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I believe the Gospel of your Son is power unto Salvation. Help me Lord, to live by and share this truth to all who are lost without eternal hope. Don’t let me become or be a part of an ear candy lighthouse. Help me to remain a strong tower so that I may shine the life-changing light of the true Gospel wherever I go. In Jesus name I pray, amen. 

SCRIPTURE REFERENCES
“For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.” – 2 Timothy 4:3
“But understand this: In the last days terrible times will come. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, without love of good, traitorous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. Turn away from such as these!” -2 Timothy 3:1-5 (BSB)
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” -2 Corinthians 10:5
“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.” -Romans 13:1
“Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths.  You have charged us to keep your commandments carefully.” -Psalm 119:1-4 (NLT)
-ALL SCRIPTURE IS QUOTED FROM THE NIV EXCEPT WHERE SPECIFIED.

A Conforming Light

For unto those whom he knew beforehand, he also marked out beforehand the way that they might be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. – The Apostle Paul (Romans 8:29, JB2000)

Pictured above is the Fastnet Rock Lighthouse. It was constructed in 1899 on Fastnet Rock, a slate-granite islet in the southern coast of County Cork, Ireland. This granite tower which measures 177 feet (the tallest in Ireland) was built to replace the previous cast iron one erected in 1853. You can still see part of the original lighthouse’s base on the highest part of the rock. Fastnet Rock is also known as The Teardrop of Ireland because it was the last piece of land that Irish emigrants saw as they sailed away to the New World.

Due to its location, the topography of the islet, and the amount of granite needed for its construction, this lighthouse is considered one of the greatest feats of its time. It actually took 8 years to complete!

A quick glance at this lighthouse today and one would think that it is part of the islet itself. Not only are their colors and shades strikingly similar, but so is their texture. The natural rock formation was obviously there before the lighthouse. In fact, the area where the tower now sits had to be leveled prior to setting its foundation. During its early years, the unweathered lighthouse was completely white.  It was once compared to “a beautiful bride on her wedding day in a lovely lace dress.” Unfortunately, the same battering waves, inclement weather, and resilient marine algae that have stricken the very small island over the years have taken their toll on the towering beacon. They have caused its base to change color and now it resembles the rocks around it.

Scriptures declare that even before we were created, God had already planned to conform us to the image of His Son.¹ This process actually begins with our confession of Christ as Lord and Savior. And while it is entirely a work of the Holy Spirit (through sanctification),² our job is to submit to His leading and respond in obedience to God’s word. In other words, God imparts to us a new nature the moment we place our faith in Jesus. He then continues to cleanse, purify, and renew us through our commitment to spiritual disciplines (prayer, fasting, bible study, worship, fellowship, witnessing). The result is an ongoing inner transformation that allows us to conform (become similar in character) to the person of Jesus Christ. 

HNY17Persecution caused many of the early followers of Jesus to be scattered throughout Judaea and Samaria. Some of them traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus, but it was at Antioch that they were first called Christians because their behavior, activity, and speech were like Christ.3 Contrary to what some teach, the word Christian does not mean “little Christ.” That idea erroneously suggests that we are diminutive copies or duplicates of Christ. “Christian” actually derives from the Greek word Christianos,. which is a combination of Christos (anointed, messiah) and ianos, a suffix denoting adhering or belonging to and commonly applied to slaves.

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We are not called to morph into small Jesuses. We are called to be “like” Him. To be a Christian simply means to choose to believe in, submit to, and obey Jesus’ teachings, and strive to live as He did. It is important to understand, however, that living like Jesus does not save us. Amidst all the chaos, feuding, and acts of hate and evil, the world is filled with “good” people. But generosity, kindness, compassion and even religious traditions do not automatically grant anyone access to heaven. If it were so, then the entire Bible and the Christian theology would be false and useless. But the irrefutable, inerrant, and life-changing word of God declares that salvation is through faith in Christ and Him alone.4 That same faith allows God’s Spirit to work in us and compels us to follow in the footstep of our Savior. Good works are a result of salvation, not vice versa. Jesus is the Rock of our salvation. If we remain firmly anchored in Him we eventually begin to live, love, act, and react like He did while on earth. That is, we slowly conform to His likeness, pretty much like the Fastnet Rock Lighthouse has been conforming to the image of the rock upon which it stands.

Becoming like Christ may seem like an impossible task at times,  especially when we have to face difficult and unexpected challenges in our lives. But let us not lose heart and trust that if Jesus himself prayed that we would become one with Him as He is one with the Father,5 then God is most definitely involved in the process. Plus, we have been given all the tools necessary to help us. The change begins on the inside in our spirit being where we are made right with God the moment we accept Jesus in our hearts. Then, through obedience to God’s word, it slowly begins to shape our way of thinking making itself evident on the outside in the way we live day by day. In fact, it should even shape the way we treat our physical bodies for it becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit.6 So remember, spiritual re-birth is just the beginning. Remaining in Christ and His word is what helps us in the process of becoming A Conforming Light.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are the Rock upon which I stand. Thank you for the sanctifying work you are doing in me. Help me to stay committed to your word so that I may continue to conform more and more to your likeness. I surrender to the leading of your Holy Spirt. For it is my desire to reflect you and the light you brought into the world every day of my life. This I pray in your precious name, amen. 

SCRIPTURE REFERENCES
1 “For unto those whom he knew beforehand, he also marked out beforehand the way that they might be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” – Romans 8:29, (JB2000)
2 “[The elect who are] chosen by the foreknowledge of God the Father and sanctified by the Spirit for obedience to Jesus Christ…” -1 Peter 1:2 
3 “…and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.” Acts 11:26 (ESV)
4 ” Salvation is found in no one else [but Jesus], for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” – Acts 4:12
5 “I am not asking on behalf of them alone, but also on behalf of those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I am in You…” -John17:21
6 “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God with your body.” – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (BSB)
-ALL SCRIPTURE IS QUOTED FROM THE NIV EXCEPT WHERE SPECIFIED.

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